Grand Gala Record 2

Grand Gala Record (Germany) / c. 1916

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Design: The beautifully rendered illustration shows yet another scene derived from the dark recesses of pagan mythology, this time of Roman origin: a satyr cavorting with a group of maenads. Again, there is a perverted admixture of the human and divine, which in satyrs was manifested in bodies that were half human (with the addition of horns on the head) and half beast, with the shaggy legs and cloven hoofs of a goat.

Satyrs, or fauns, were obsessed with chasing, dancing with and seducing nymphs or maenads. The maenads ('mad women') were at first the nurses and then the followers of Dionysus or Bacchus, the part-man, part-god, part-male, part-female god of wine (hence the bunches of grapes).

In strange rites held at night in secret groves in the mountains (the moon is shown here behind drifting clouds) maenads would exhort each other by screaming and whirling around into a state of alcohol-induced frenzy. During these rites, the maenads carried a phallic symbol called a thyrsus, a long stick tipped with a pine cone and tied with ribbons or dripping with honey (perhaps to simulate flowing semen).

Both hybrids were enthralled by music, which is often depicted as being performed by the satyr playing his multi-fluted 'pipes of Pan,' but here it is the sound of a Grand Gala record being played on a cabinet-style phonograph that is driving them all to a state of ecstatic abandon.

The swallow-tailed banner containing the label name is also beautifully drawn; the entire lower segment seems to have been held over from the late Victorian era.

History: Label scan courtesy of Helmut Janisch of Germany.

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